John-Ross Edwards, 25th minute counter-attacking scoop was enough to ensure Jamaican Champions Harbour View FC to cap off a stellar season where the touring team satisfied their large throng of adorning and noisy fans in the Richie Richardson Stands at the legendary Antigua Recreational Ground in capital of St. John’s.
The two-time Caribbean Club Champions, were exposed to an early onslaught of continuous attacking football from the newly formed professional outfit, as Scottish National Technical Director, Billy McEwen deployed excessive numbers in raids on the visiting backline coordinated by National defender, Dicoy Williams and his partner, Montrose Phinn as goalkeeper, Michaud “Button” Barrett was severely tested on 5 occasions within the first 28 minutes as he managed the invasion well to bring off two dazzling saves from lanky dreadlocked striker, Ranja Christian to keep the score sheet, clean.
Barracuda’s 1-3-5-2 attacking formation, rotated around midfielders Captain, George Dublin, young Quinton Griffiths, Desmond Bleau and Randolf Burton was outnumbering the HVFC defensive unit and long direct passes were sent continuously into the opponents area as shots were hastily fired at the goal, twice wide of the mark by Grayson Gregory and another from Christian who was 5 yards offside that was lodged in the goal as the defenders stood still in an obvious offside call.
Slowly as HVFC got accustomed to the large field, heavily covered crab-grass surface, sweltering heat with no wind and the marauding attacks the team leadership managed a rare 18th minute counter-attacking ploy down the left flank by Davion Woodhouse and John-Ross Edwards which produced a telling cross to Kavin Bryan at the back post but his first touch eluded the defender, Roy Gregory but he slipped and the goalkeeper, Molvin James collected the ball inside his penalty area. Captain, Richard Edwards and Woodhouse, also would duplicate the move 4 minutes later but the skipper’s right-footed cross was caught by the goalkeeper.
Smart thinking, had shown the way as Marcelino Blackburn picked out John-Ross once more on the left side instead and this unlocked the defense as he scooped the ball overhead of a marker and evaded challenges from the goalkeeper James and another defender to slot home and celebrate with the Jamaicans and his teammates after 25 minutes.
The pressure was released and more coordinated passes appeared as confidence, match sharpness and concentration slowly returned to the Champions after two weeks rest of the field, the cobwebs were disappearing. Skillfully Edwards and Jermaine Hue organized the midfield to hold sway until halftime, where a much needed rest, refreshment and tactical changes were implemented by Coach, Andrew “Bowa” Hines.
Fierce competitiveness marked the second stanza as the Coaches went in search of a victory from different angles, substitutions were early on both sides as Tamarly Thomas, replaced Teran Williams for Barracuda and Andre Fagan came in for Jahmali Spence who suffered from a stomach ailment and being hit in the face by the ball, from close distance to have a pounding headache.
No more would follow for 32 minutes, as the tactical changes were in evidence as the Coaches forgot the friendly nature of the game, looking for the upper-hand until minute 81 when Hines unleashed Nicholas Beckitt and Rafiek Thomas, for Richard Edwards and Kavin Bryan as the fresh-legs immediately created new space, higher pace and new ideas that worried the Antiguans.
Spurred by the injection, Romario and Fabian Campbell along with Kimorlee Brissett joined the fray for Marcelino Blackburn, John-Ross Edwards and Jermaine Hue, as the ball artistry of HVFC appeared in full swing and rushed to high climax as Andre Steele came to the party, for Davion Woodhouse, it was devilish possession that displayed a myriad of short, snappy and classic skills as the young brigade entertained the crowd with dazzling flair and trickery.
Cheers, jeers and noise emanated from the Stands all around the ground as the thousands of fans were reveling the ball artistry as the game came to a finale, HVFC the clear winner at the end after fighting all the way.
The victorious visitors led by Carnel “Fuzzy” Austin, took a lap of honour around the grounds to loud applause and stops, handshakes and high fives in particular in front of the jubilant Jamaican Stands.
BARRACUDA FC Starting Lineup:
GK – Molvin James, George Dublin© ,Dave Carr, Roy Gregory, Karanja Mack, Teran Williams, Quinton Griffith, Desmond Bleau, Randolph Burton, Ranja Christian, Grayson Gregory.
Sub used: Tamarly Thomas for Williams 64th minute
HVFC Starting Lineup:
Michaud Barrett (GK), Davion Woodhouse, Jaron Richards, Dicoy Williams, Montrose Phinn, Richard Edwards (Captain), John-Ross Edwards, Marcelino Blackburn, Jermaine Hue, Kavin Bryan, Jahmali Spence.
Subs used: Andre Fagan (48th), Nicholas Beckitt(81st), Rafiek Thomas “(83rd), Romario Campbell, Fabian Campbell, Kimorlee Brissett (85th), Andre Steele (89th).